Friday, November 26, 2010

Does the Universe Need to Exist?

The universe: everything that physically exists. From galaxies to human beings to quarks, we’re learning more about how it all works every day, but here’s a question that the modern world has put on the back burner: does the universe need to exist? I’m not talking about beginnings or physical causes, I’m talking about necessity. Even if the universe has always existed, which science does not support, does it need to exist? In this context, if something is necessary, it must happen. If something is unnecessary, it may or may not happen, depending on external factors. If left to itself, it will not happen, so if something unnecessary happens, then its occurrence must be contingent upon something else. I’m not talking about physics here, but let’s consider an analogy using physical forces in place of existence with the same definition of necessity.  If I let go of a book, does it need to fall? Well, it could fall or it could not fall depending on the forces applied to it, so it’s unnecessary. In this case, it does fall. Why? Its falling is contingent upon the force of gravity. If a book is sitting on a table when I let go of it, it doesn’t fall. Why? Because the normal force of the surface counteracts the force of gravity, so it’s as if there are no external forces applied at all. Falling is not necessary for the book, but contingent, and so it simply won’t happen unless an outside force compels it to fall. This analogy with physical forces illustrates what I mean by necessity and contingency. Shouldn’t it be the same way with existence?

Does the universe need to exist - was there absolutely no possibility of the universe not existing? Everyone with whom I’ve discussed this question, atheist and theist alike, has given the answer “No, the universe does not need to exist.” Now we must ask the question: then why does it? A self-professed atheist and naturalist once told me “the universe doesn’t need to exist, it just does.” While this response may sound almost profound on the surface, a more careful examination of the logic will reveal its fatal flaw – it is intellectual suicide. Let’s return to my analogy with physical forces and consider this answer. If I drop a book, does it need to fall? “It doesn’t need to fall, it just does.” This signals the death of scientific curiosity. This answer demonstrates an unwillingness to pursue the matter any further.  If modern man applied this dead-end logic to science as he does to philosophy, imagine the stagnation of material progress we would experience. Yet the question “does the universe need to exist?” is much more transcendent, important, and poignant than any question regarding physical forces, because it is ultimately linked with the question of who we are and why we’re here. Does the universe need to exist? There seems to be a consensus that it does not, which means that the universe’s existence is contingent. Remember, the universe is everything that physically exists; so if the existence of everything that physically exists is contingent, then there must be something beyond physical existence upon which it is contingent! There’s your proof of the supernatural!

Thomas Aquinas says “Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.” That’s why we exist, that’s where our meaning and value come from! Why does this necessary being exist? Because it must, that’s the point, since if all existence was unnecessary then nothing at all would exist. That’s why there can’t be an infinite string of unnecessary beings causing the next one’s existence. Infinite contingency is still contingency. There are other philosophical principles which can lead us to understand other characteristics of this necessary being based on logic alone, but I have only covered one today. I’m not trying to say that this one philosophical principle alone can prove the existence of the revealed Christian God with all His unique characteristics; I’m only demonstrating that the possibility of His existence is philosophically sound and answers important questions which cannot be effectively answered otherwise.  Is this simply a “God-of-the-gaps” theology? Well, only if the law of gravity is a “science-of-the-gaps” principle. Have you seen gravity, held it in your hand? No, we only know of its existence because of its effects. We accept gravity because it makes perfect sense of otherwise unexplainable phenomena.  If you are not also an “a-gravitist”, then you should have no excuse to be an “atheist”.
Thanks for listening, God bless!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ

Today we shall speak on the topic of Christ’s death and Resurrection.

    We will now attempt to demonstrate why Jesus had to have died and risen from the dead.  Based on the fact that the New Testament and the Christian faith exist, regardless of whether or not they are the truth, there are only five ways in which some would answer the question, did Jesus die and rise: The first is the swoon theory or the theory that Jesus only appeared to die and then staggered out of the tomb; the second is the conspiracy theory that the Apostles purposefully deceived the world; the third is that the Apostles hallucinated and therefore were deceived themselves; the fourth is myth, that the Apostles mythologized Jesus’ life and death; finally we have Christianity, that Jesus died and Jesus rose.
    First we will demonstrate why the swoon theory is inconsistent with the facts. Remember, this theory assumes that the Gospels are genuine accounts. If Jesus did not die then why did blood and WATER pour from Jesus’ side when the Romans pierced his heart, meaning his lungs had collapsed? Why did the centurions not break his legs, which they always did to quicken the death of those still alive?  Finally, if the Romans had not killed him and he was only “mostly dead” in the tomb then how could a half dead man move a stone that took several centurions to move in the first place.  I say impossible!!!

    Let’s look at the hallucination theory. It would really be silly to think that Jesus’ Apostles were merely seeing hallucinations of Jesus.  When hallucinations happen they only happen to a single person and they only last a short amount of time.  The Gospels portray Jesus appearing for forty days to many people, eating with the Apostles, and then rising from them.  Also, if it was merely a hallucination then why did the Jews not present Jesus’ body?  They did not, nor did the Romans and remember the tomb of Jesus was heavily guarded so how could the Apostles have stolen Jesus’ body? And now we have arrived at the conspiracy theory.

    A slightly better argument than these past two is that the Apostles purposefully deceived the rest of the world.  Let’s consider how likely this is. First of all, what could possibly motivate a person to die for a deception which they themselves invented? Remember there were twelve Apostles and many more disciples, many of which died for proclaiming the power and resurrection of Christ, something of which they claimed to be eye witnesses. I believe Blaise Pascal puts it best, “The human heart is singularly susceptible to fickleness, to change, to promises, to bribery. One of them had only to deny his story under these inducements, or still more because of possible imprisonment, tortures and death, and they would all have been lost. Follow that out."(Pascal, Pensees 322,310)   Thanks, Pascal. Beyond the complete lack of a motive for such a massive and brilliantly orchestrated lie, we also have the difficulty of the body, the stone, and the Roman Centurions. Furthermore, there is the difficulty of lying to people in the same Geographic location and time period in which the fictional events were supposed to have occurred. As the list goes on, the probability of this theory drops like a stone.

    Perhaps the best and most popular argument against Christ’s Resurrection in our day is that the Apostles benevolently mythologized Jesus’ life, perhaps to romanticize the memory of a wise but non-miraculous teacher.  Let’s see how this argument stands up.  The Gospels as we can see are written in a completely different style than mythology, not to mention the epistles. There are many details which would not have been included in a mythologized account. For example, why would a mythological account of the resurrection depict women, who had a very low social status, discovering the empty tomb? Also, why are there no historical records of a non-mythologized and non-miraculous Jesus? Furthermore, the New Testament explicitly says it is not mythological in 2 Peter 1:16 (“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”), so if it is mythologized, then it is deceitfully so and we are therefore back at the conspiracy theory and all its problems. Another point is that there is not enough time for a myth to develop. The Gospels, Epistles, and Revelation were finished by 90 A.D. so there would have been eye witnesses who would have been able to discredit these myths.  Again, no one would have died for it. Therefore Christ’s Resurrection could not have been a myth.

    So, we can see that only one possibility is left: Jesus died and Jesus rose. There is no other way around it.  If Jesus died and rose then that means Jesus is God and King and therefore we must obey his teachings.  If Jesus didn’t die and rise then I might as well stop speaking on this subject as it would only be in vain… but because Jesus did rise from the dead and conquer all of the sin, negativity, and murderous cruelty the world could muster, I will proclaim his name above all.  God bless

Now we would like to end with a quote from Dr. Peter Kreeft:

“The answer is not obscure,” Dr. Kreeft says for those who follow this logic out to its conclusion, “traditional Christianity awaits them, complete with adoration of Christ as God, obedience to Christ as Lord, dependence on Christ as Savior, humble confession of sin and a serious effort to live Christ's life of self-sacrifice, detachment from the world, righteousness, holiness and purity of thought, word and deed. The historical evidence is massive enough to convince the open-minded inquirer. By analogy with any other historical event, the resurrection has eminently credible evidence behind it. To disbelieve it, you must deliberately make an exception to the rules you use everywhere else in history. Now why would someone want to do that?”

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Welcome to DCMission's blog

Welcome to our blog.  Our mission is to hear the call of Pope Benedict XVI and evangelize the Digital Continent.  We will be writing on Apologetics and living a Christian life.  We will be posting the words for our youtubes on here and then will expand upon them.  We hope to get our first blog up by this weekend.  God bless